Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
Teacher implementation of school reforms varies widely and often results in inconsistent student outcomes. Teachers adopt or resist change for complex reasons that are not fully understood. This qualitative study explored how veteran teachers described their experiences with school reform and changes in classroom practices that occurred over the course of their careers; it also examined factors that teachers identified as having positive and negative influences on their adoptions of change. The conceptual framework was based on Senge's systems theory as applied to learning organizations and Goleman's emotional intelligence theory. The research questions focused on: (a) How veteran teachers described their experiences with various school reforms and changes in classroom practices that have occurred over the course of their careers, and (b) What internal and external factors veteran teachers identified as having a positive or negative influence on their adoptions of change. Eight veteran K-12 public school teachers from a northeastern state were interviewed using a semi-structured, open-ended questionnaire. Data were analyzed using first and second level coding in order to identify emerging patterns and themes and discrepant data. Key findings indicated that the teachers who reported successful implementation of school reforms also reported that the internal factors of self-assessment, self-confidence, initiative, adaptability, and empathy, and the external factors of shared vision, team learning, and systems thinking were important to implementing change. When administrators supported teachers through quality professional development, adequate collaboration time, and respect for their professional judgment, participants embraced school reforms and changed their classroom practices.